Play the Game – ‘Sport & Politics’ publish special magazine on Andrew Jennings

53 authors from 17 different countries contributed to a special issue of “Sports & Politics” magazine on the life and journalism of Andrew Jennings, who died earlier this year. At the same time, the magazine provides a fascinating insight into the rise of sports policy journalism over the past 30 years.

In 2011, investigative journalists Andrew Jennings and Jens Weinreich received the Play the Game award for their work “documenting and publicizing the enormous levels of mismanagement and corruption in the world’s major sports organizations”, as it was put the nomination.

It was fitting that the two got the award together. They were close colleagues and friends, and when Jennings died aged 78 in January 2022, Weinreich mobilized their shared network of journalists, academics and sports executives – friends as well as a few foes – to contribute in a few weeks to a great written tribute to a man who everyone agrees was a formidable journalist and force for change in the world of sports governance.

The tribute is published as an 81-page special issue of Weinreich’s magazine “Sport and Politics” with texts by 53 authors from 17 different countries.

The cover of the special issue of ‘Sport & Politique’

It was not the intention to produce an exhaustive account of Jennings’ work, Weinreich writes in his op-ed, but he thinks anyone who wants to understand the revolution in investigative reporting on sports politics and the importance of Andrew Jennings in the 30 years since ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was published by Jennings and co-author Vyv Simson should read the texts carefully: “More than 50 pieces of the puzzle fit together to form a great whole. “

The pieces not only form a whole, but it is also a multidimensional puzzle, which Weinreich put together with the help of people who knew Jennings well and admired him as well as people who had benefited from his journalistic attention, such as d former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

“With his books and articles he held up a mirror to us – and while I disagree with much of what he wrote, I take my hat off to him,” Blatter writes and adds: ” When I look at what’s happening in FIFA today, I’d be happy if Andrew Jennings was still around.

How to get the documents
The magazine not only allows those who knew Jennings well to reminisce, but also gives new readers the opportunity to enter the intertwined worlds of Jennings and sports politics through well-written and often entertaining articles that detail some incredible stories that Jennings discovered himself or helped others discover.

The magazine also contains many stories about Andrew Jennings as a man, a friend, a mentor and above all as a hard-nosed journalist who avoided press conferences and media documents.

His journalistic approach and methodologies are covered in several articles that highlight his insistence on obtaining the incriminating documents that have always formed the basis of his work. And how do you do that? The magazine reprints an article Jennings wrote for “The Global Investigative Journalism Casebook” published by UNESCO where he explains his methods in that personal style that has ruffled quite a few feathers over the years:

“Go to a press conference chaired by Mr. Big & Nasty. Don’t dress as smart as the press kit. Silk ties are a career killer. Be a killer. Stand up and accuse Mr. Big of whatever comes into your head; bribes, pedophilia, the list is yours to write. You send a message to the employees that, if Mr. Big is as big a bastard as you suspect, will be a sordid nightmare to work for. Intimidate men and sniff women… You signal that you don’t give a damn… for his big b…, you only came because you want a fight. … If you gave a good performance, the documents should start pouring in.

The importance of journalism
The documents circulated in Jennings’s direction for many years where he painstakingly collected and organized them, and with great patience extracted and published stories about the sport’s villains that ultimately led to the downfall of many corrupt officials in the sport. Fifa.

One of the magazine’s articles is written by Special Agent Steven Berryman who led the US Treasury Department’s global investigation into taxation, international money laundering and corruption in sports governance within the FIFA. For him, the investigation began when he read a 2011 article by Jennings on FIFA corruption and culminated in late May 2015 with accusations and arrests of several FIFA officials in Switzerland and other countries. countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

“Know that much of this may never have come to light without the tenacious and dedicated research and reporting over decades by investigative journalists around the world, which is especially true of the deceased, but never forgotten, Andrew Jennings,” writes Berrryman.

At Play the Game 2022, Jennings and investigative journalism will be celebrated when conference attendees are invited to “An Evening with Andrew Jennings.” Here, stories about his life and career will be mixed with discussions of how best to support and grow investigative sports journalism in the years to come.

Sara R. Cicero